Temple University and TUGSA Reach Agreement
On March 13, 2023, Temple University and the Temple University Graduate Students’ Association (TUGSA) reached an agreement acknowledging the union’s priorities and reflecting the university’s respect for our graduate students and their impactful work. Read the announcement from President Jason Wingard.
You can also read previous updates from the university.
TUGSA members will be presented with a tentative agreement today. Voting will continue until Monday.
This afternoon, negotiators from TUGSA and the university once again met to continue discussions toward an agreement that benefits both parties. Because of the good faith effort shown by TUGSA, we are pleased to report that immediately, we will reinstate healthcare subsidies for striking TUGSA members.
While we left today’s negotiation session without an agreement, we are pleased with the progress, and we will continue discussions tomorrow.
The last five weeks have been immensely challenging. Together, we have had to navigate through a work stoppage that distracts from the university’s larger mission of educating our students and serving the Temple and North Philadelphia communities.
We recognize the impact this has had on our community, and we thank you all for continuing to demonstrate amazing patience, flexibility and resilience.
The university remains committed to continuing to meet and work with the union to reach a resolution. Today was a great step in the right direction.
This past week was a difficult one for the entire Temple University community. All our time, efforts and attention were rightfully focused on the family of Sergeant Fitzgerald. He will never be forgotten, nor will his contributions or his efforts to make our campus a safe place for all.
As we look ahead, it’s time to again focus on negotiating a fair deal with our graduate students.
Today, negotiators from TUGSA and the university reengaged, and we remain hopeful that these discussions will continue to move the process forward. I am encouraged that we were able to reach a tentative agreement last week, as it indicates that we are getting closer to a settlement.
Our graduate students are an essential and valued part of our Temple community. We share the common goal of moving beyond the strike and continuing to build a stronger Temple for all—the teachers, learners, researchers, innovators, administrators and staff. People who work and study here share a love for our institution, and we all look forward to returning to our everyday academic life.
The university is committed to meeting as often as it takes and working with the union and its leadership to move forward.
We are disappointed to learn that TUGSA did not ratify the tentative agreement reached with the university last Friday, Feb. 17. The agreement would have ended the three-week strike and returned the university to normal operations.
The agreement provided for a retroactive increase to minima of 10% along with a one-time payment to every TUGSA-covered graduate student of $1,000 and increases to minima in each of the next three academic years of 5%, 2.5% and 2.25%, respectively. The agreement maintained free health coverage for graduate students and provided enhancements in benefits such as bereavement and parental leave. Finally, the agreement also provided retroactive healthcare subsidies, tuition remission and pay for striking students.
Although the TUGSA leadership left the Friday meeting promising to unanimously recommend the agreement for ratification, the TUGSA membership did not ratify the agreement. Therefore, the parties will return to bargaining soon, and we will continue to negotiate with TUGSA in good faith as we have done to date.
Temple University and the Temple University Graduate Students’ Association (TUGSA) reached a tentative agreement on a new contract tonight. We are pleased with the outcome and eager to welcome our students back to their teaching, research and studies.
TUGSA will present the agreement to its membership for ratification in the coming days.
The tentative agreement provides for an increase to minima this year, a one-time payment effective this month, and increases to minima in the upcoming three academic years. In addition, graduate student employees will retain free single health coverage throughout the agreement.
The parties agreed to provide striking students with health cost reimbursements and to reinstate tuition remission. TUGSA agreed to withdraw pending claims of unfair labor practices related to the negotiations process.
We thank the Temple University community for its patience and flexibility during these 17 days.
Update following mediations with TUGSA
Throughout today, Temple University met with the Temple University Graduate Students’ Association (TUGSA) along with state mediators. The parties had productive discussions and agreed to meet again this Thursday, Feb. 16.
Temple is committed to working with TUGSA’s leadership and negotiating team to reach an agreement that benefits both parties.
We want to again thank the entire Temple community for being flexible and patient during this difficult time.
Update on TUGSA strike
Temple acknowledges the extremely challenging situation our community is experiencing as we enter the third week of the strike by TUGSA. We value the talented students in our graduate programs, and we recognize the key role that they play in helping our university operate. The strike deeply affects our campus, and the university continues to be focused on bringing it to a swift and fair resolution.
State of negotiations
Today, the state mediator has requested that both Temple and TUGSA meet with his assistance to work toward agreement. We look forward to the opportunity to continue meeting and negotiating in good faith, as we have consistently for the last year.
We want to make sure that the Temple community knows that we respect the rights of our graduate students to strike and to protest peacefully. TUGSA is a valuable part of our community and one of 11 bargaining units within the university for which we deeply care. This is a confusing time with many voices on the issues surrounding the strike. For up-to-date information, visit temple.edu/tugsa-strike.
Graduate student compensation
Temple is committed to paying all employees a fair and competitive salary that allows us to attract and to retain outstanding candidates. While doing so, we also must consider the broader context of declining enrollment, school and college budget constraints, and our commitment to affordability. One of the ways we do this is by establishing a wage minimum in the collective bargaining agreement that allows schools and colleges to pay graduate salaries that are competitive within each field but that also acknowledge differences in school budgets. Any school or department can pay a graduate student more within the context of its budget.
Salaries are just one component of a graduate student’s compensation package. As part-time, nine-month employees, TAs and RAs receive a compensation package that would be equivalent to nearly $50,000 a year if they worked full time, over 12 months. In addition, they receive full tuition remission, and are the only Temple employees who receive free healthcare for the entire year. These stipends and the cost-free benefit package allow us to attract and retain outstanding graduate students while being responsible stewards of limited university resources.
Graduate students at other institutions
Educational institutions such as the University of Pennsylvania and Princeton that recently resolved graduate student contracts and are sometimes erroneously used as comparisons to Temple, are private universities with different resources and without the same enrollment challenges facing many public institutions in the Northeast like Temple. As a state-related university, we diligently work to pay fairly without unduly burdening other components of our budget and revenue sources.
Stadium: There has been misinformation claiming that Temple University is building a stadium in the area and we wish to allay any concerns of our neighbors. Temple University does not have plans to build a stadium.
Willingness to negotiate: There also have been accusations that Temple University has not been willing to negotiate. The opposite is true. The university recognizes the strike is not beneficial to either side and Temple has attended every bargaining session prepared to bargain in good faith.
Treatment of international students: Temple has never threatened deportation or any retaliatory action against our international students, or any students. In December, when meeting with elected officials, we reiterated this when TUGSA members brought this concern to them.
At that time, we noted that Temple will not retaliate in any way against any student who participates in a strike.
Because there are many complexities associated with visas, income and enrollment status, we have encouraged international students to seek individualized, expert advice either from our Office of International Services or an attorney of their choosing. The intent is to ensure that all students make an informed decision about whether to strike.
When negotiations started last year, Temple had one clear objective and proposal—to increase graduate student pay without reducing any benefits or asking for other concessions. In the year since negotiations started, Temple made increased salary proposals aligned with (1) increases accepted by other full-time unions and with (2) increases for other full-time employees. In addition, we offered increased family and bereavement leave in response to the union’s proposals. At this time, a year after the TUGSA contract expired, TUGSA continues to propose 50% increases and free healthcare for all dependents.
We hope that anyone who loves Temple University and cares about our longevity understands that the university cannot make concessions that would be economically unreasonable or unsustainable. We, however, believe we will find a fair solution. This belief is based on Temple’s history of working with and negotiating fair agreements with 11 bargaining units over the past 30 years with no employment action. More recently, Temple has settled contracts with two bargaining units in the past six months, representing thousands of full-time workers without controversy and through communication and engagement with those bargaining units. We are committed to working with TUGSA leadership to find a path toward resolution.
- March 13, 2023: Temple University and TUGSA reach agreement
- Feb. 27, 2023: Update on TUGSA strike
- Feb. 21, 2023: TUGSA update
- Feb. 17, 2023: Temple and TUGSA reach tentative agreement
- Feb. 14, 2023: Update following mediation with TUGSA
- Feb. 14, 2023: Update on TUGSA strike
- Feb. 8, 2023: Update regarding the ongoing TUGSA strike
- Feb. 6, 2023: Update on Temple University negotiations with TUGSA
- Nov. 11, 2022: Planning for a potential TUGSA strike